(ATTN: UPDATES with more details in paras 4, 8-10, 11-12)
SEOUL, Nov. 28 (Yonhap) — South Korea on Saturday confirmed this year’s first case of highly pathogenic avian influenza (AI) among domestic poultry at a duck farm in a southwestern province.
The agriculture ministry said a virus detected from ducks at a farm in Jeongeup, a North Jeolla Province city about 290 kilometers south of Seoul, in a pre-shipment test Thursday has been confirmed as the highly pathogenic bird flu of the H5N8 strain.
It marked the first confirmed case of highly pathogenic AI detected among domestic poultry in the country this year. All other cases reported so far involved wild birds.
H5N8 is the same subtype of AI detected from among wild birds here this year. It is the first time in about two years and eight months that the highly pathogenic bird flu has broken out at a local poultry farm.
The Jeongeup farm was breeding about 19,000 broiler ducks, and there are six other poultry farms within a radius of 3 km and 60 farms within a radius of 3 to 10 km, the ministry said.
The ministry said it has already taken preemptive measures, including access control and preventive culling, after sending an emergency response team to the concerned farm.
The ministry said it has also issued a lockdown order for all poultry farms and livestock facilities and vehicles across the nation, which took effect at midnight and will last for 48 hours.
For poultry farms in Jeongeup, the lockdown order will be effective for seven days, it added.
The ministry also banned the trade of live chicks and ducks at all traditional markets nationwide and mandated them to close on Wednesdays for disinfection. It also urged all poultry farms nationwide to strengthen their sterilization work every day and take all possible quarantine measures.
Highly pathogenic AI is highly contagious and can cause severe illness and even death in poultry.
The North Jeolla provincial government announced Saturday that it has culled about 392,000 chickens and ducks at livestock farms located within 3 km of the Jeongeup duck farm as part of its preventive measures.
The poultry culled were 292,000 chickens and 100,000 ducks, it said, adding all 19,000 ducks at the Jeongeup farm were already slaughtered.
“Areas within a 10-km radius of the Jeongeup farm have been designated as an intensive quarantine zone. All quarantine equipment and helicopters have been mobilized to strengthen disinfection in the areas,” a provincial official said.